Steve Fisk

448 Deathless Days

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AllMusic Review by

Fisk's reputation as a wonderful producer was already being established by the time he stepped out with his solo debut, 448 Deathless Days. This could be seen in who ended up helping on the album -- various SST labelmates he had already produced or worked with, like Negativland and the Screaming Trees, as well as bandmates in Pell Mell, stepped in here and there on various instruments. Generally, Fisk relied on others to provide regular rock instrumentation as needed, though often tweaked with in the studio, while he concentrated on the overall song writing, arranging, and a wide variety of keyboards, from piano to optigan. The end result makes for an intriguing hybrid not like anything else on SST's roster at that time. 448 Deathless Days has more in common with sample/cut-up artists like Adrian Sherwood and World Domination Enterprises. Sonically, 448 Deathless Days is a product of its late-'80s times and at various points has clearly dated compared to the more fluid infiltration of collage via hip-hop into the pop consciousness in the '90s. As a trippy listen owing as much to psychedelia, funk, and late-night jazz as it does to experimental procedures, though, it's still great fun, right from the weird yelp that bridges "Invocation" and the groove of "No 2nd Chance." The sheer playfulness of the album is one of its strongest points; Fisk piles on the sonic combinations throughout, cheap and cheery keyboards up against distorted vocals and Carl Stalling-inspired freakouts. Calmer moments aren't lacking either, but not without Fisk's inspired touches -- thus the dreamy guitar/bass chime of "Weekend Review" comes with echoed drum machines and hissy, moody synth parts. "Further Demo of an Assist," meanwhile, almost inadvertently invents shoegaze thanks to its haunting, vast wash of treated keyboards.

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